Photo: Nigel Kent

Our Projects to Save Lakes, Streams, and Drinking Water

Water Quality > Our Projects

Protecting land protects water.  Acquiring a stretch of pristine shoreline can directly buffer one of our precious Finger Lakes.  Restoring a wetland allows nature’s filtration system to work day and night.  And securing an upland forest protects the streams that run through it to our lakes and rivers.  All of these help with erosion, pollution, and nutrient runoff – and could help the fight against toxic algae.

The Finger Lake Land Trust employs many strategies to conserve lands that protect our water resources.  We acquire lands for permanent protection and open them as prized nature preserves for quiet public recreation.  Meanwhile, our conservation easements limit development and ensure water quality on lands that remain in private ownership.

There are additional ways that FLLT stewards the land to further safeguard our water.  See examples on this page, including special projects for wetland creation, tree planting, vernal pool creation, and more.  Also see our water quality partners.

Skaneateles Lake. Photo: Matt Champlin

Lakeshore Protection


Onondaga County, NY

The Land Trust owns and manages 2,200 feet of Skaneateles Lake shoreline and over 100 acres of hillside forest with significant frontage on Barber Gulf. Also known as the Staghorn Cliffs, this stretch of sheer lakeshore is among the most pristine remaining in the Finger Lakes region. Here, the land rises abruptly from the water to form steep cliffs widely regarded for their fossilized coral reef and wild scenic beauty. Densely forested hillsides directly above the cliffs stabilize erodible soils and provide significant habitat for a variety of wildlife.

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Land Donation Adds to Protection of Skaneateles Lake

Land Trust Acquires Rare Stretch of Owasco Lake Shoreline

Land Purchase Adds to Nature Preserve Featuring Cayuga Lake Shoreline

Land Trust Dedicates New Otisco Lake Preserve


Photo: Jeff Katris

Lakeshore Protection


Tompkins County, NY

The Finger Lakes Land Trust is acting on an extraordinary chance to protect land and water in the Cayuga Lake watershed north of Ithaca. The Land Trust is saving this spectacular site in Lansing that boasts 243 acres of meadows, woodlands, gorges, waterfalls, and lake views. The effort will conserve over 4,000 feet of shoreline directly across from Taughannock Falls State Park!

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The Cayuga Cliffs Project: Saving Spectacular Lands Above Cayuga’s Waters!

Auction Canceled! Next Steps to Be Determined for Largest Remaining Private Shoreline in the Finger Lakes


Six Mile Creek. Photo: Jonathan Brooks

Streambank Protection


Tompkins County, NY

The Land Trust has already successfully completed 26 land and water conservation projects within the Six Mile Creek watershed. The creek provides drinking water for the City of Ithaca and projects that protect water at its source are critical to maintaining water quality for residents and visitors. Conservation projects within the watershed are also contributing to a growing complex of conserved lands that includes the Land Trust’s Roy H. Park Preserve, Cornell University’s Old 600 Natural Area, Hammond Hill State Forest, and Yellow Barn State Forest.

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Land Trust and NYS DEC Announce New Conservation Easement to Help Protect City of Ithaca’s Water Supply

Conservation Easement Helps Protect Ithaca’s Drinking Water

Land Donation Adds to Protection of Keuka Lake

Expansion of McIlroy Bird Sanctuary in Cayuga County Adds to Protection of Fall Creek

Land Acquisition Advances Protection of Skaneateles Lake


Chemung River and Palisades. Photo: Stefanie Delaney

Riverfront Protection


Chemung County, NY

The Land Trust acquired 104 acres with more than 4,000 feet of streambank along the Chemung River in the town of Big Flats. Visible from Interstate 86 and New York State Route 352, the steep hillside property is a cherished landmark in the Southern Tier, known locally as the Palisades. Here, the river valley and neighboring hillsides have long been recognized as important for their functional floodplain, wildlife habitat, and unique recreational opportunities. Protecting this property enhances water quality and adds to a growing network of conserved lands along the Chemung River.

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Land Trust Protects 4,000 Feet of Chemung River Streambank

Land Trust Acquires More Than 200 Acres in Chemung River Valley

Land Trust Protects 1,000 Feet of Chemung River Streambank

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Bare Hill on Canandaigua Lake. Photo: Bill Hecht

Steep Slope Protection


Yates County, NY

Bare Hill is well known in the region for its scenic views and hillside forests, as well as its place in Seneca lore. Here, the Land Trust has protected seven wooded properties that buffer a state-owned unique area and prevent development on the hillside. Conserving these lands helps maintain the integrity of Canandaigua Lake’s watershed by securing steep slopes that are highly susceptible to erosion. With the exception of a single lakefront parcel the Land Trust has opened as a nature preserve, properties acquired here will ultimately be conveyed to the state as additions to Bare Hill State Unique Area.

Related Stories

East Shore Preserve at Bare Hill

Land Trust Acquires Pristine Skaneateles Lake Shoreline

Land Donation Adds to Protection of Skaneateles Lake

Queen Catharine Marsh. Photo: Bill Hecht

Wetland Protection and Remediation


Schuyler County, NY

The Land Trust protected 140 acres in wildlife-rich Queen Catharine Marsh, located just outside of Watkins Glen in the heart of one of the Finger Lakes region’s largest wetlands. The marsh is recognized as one of New York’s Important Bird Areas and it plays an important role in filtering runoff to Seneca Lake. The Land Trust worked in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to enhance the property to benefit water quality and wildlife habitat.

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Land Gift Adds To Protected Wetlands Near Seneca Lake

Land Trust Acquires Rare Stretch of Owasco Lake Shoreline

Owasco Lakeshore Protection Project

Land Trust Acquires Rare Stretch of Owasco Lake Shoreline – Life in the Finger Lakes

Owasco Flats. Photo: Bill Hecht

Stream Corridor Restoration


Cayuga County, NY

The Land Trust acquired a 15.4 acre parcel with 2,300 feet of frontage on the Owasco Inlet that was contributing significant runoff to Owasco Lake through soil erosion. The Land Trust acted quickly to complete a streamside restoration project in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to address the erosion and enhance habitat for fish and wildlife. Trees planted as part of this effort have grown tremendously and the project has resulted in a significant reduction in soil and phosphorous runoff into the lake.

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Land Trust Gifts 15 Acres at Owasco Flats to NY State

Land Purchase Protects 3,000 Feet of Owego Creek Streambank in Tompkins County

Photo: Chris Ray

Tree Planting Project

Chemung River

Chemung County, NY

The Land Trust began an ambitious restoration effort at its Kehoe Nature Preserve in Big Flats by planting 1,200 native trees and shrubs in partnership with the Upper Susquehanna Coalition (USC). The establishment of native plants at this site, which includes 1,480 feet of frontage on the Chemung River, will enhance wildlife habitat, promote native plant diversity, and create an important forest buffer. The USC, which works with partner organizations to improve water quality in the Upper Susquehanna River Basin, took the lead on restoring a 5-acre field adjacent to the river by removing non-native invasive species such as knotweed, European buckthorn, honeysuckle, and tree of heaven—a preferred host plant for the invasive spotted lanternfly.

Related Stories

Land Trust and Partners Plant 1,200 Trees Along the Chemung River

Partnership Protects 1,000 Feet of Chemung River Streambank

Land Purchase Protects 3,000 Feet of Owego Creek Streambank in Tompkins County

Keuka Lake Bluff Point. Photo: Bill Hecht

Private Efforts to Conserve Land and Water


Yates County, NY

The Land Trust holds a conservation easement on a scenic parcel of forest that borders Keuka Lake at the tip of Bluff Point – the prominent bluff that separates the two arms of the lake. Safekeeping the shoreline from development helps preserve habitat for wildlife, including water birds, and protects the lake’s water quality. Similarly, the intact acres of mature forest prevent erosion that would otherwise occur if the property were cleared for development.

Related Stories

200 Acres in Skaneateles Watershed Conserved Forever

Hydroseeding in Spafford. Photo: FLLT


Town of Spafford Partnership

Onondaga County, NY

The Land Trust is working with partners to improve water retention at a newly acquired property on Skaneateles Lake. For example, Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District recently hydroseeded the sides of an eroding roadside ditch adjacent to the property. Hydroseeding sprays a mixture of water, mulch, and seeds onto the soil in areas that would otherwise be too steep to plant, like the sides of ditches. The seeds have already taken hold, and as vegetation fills in the slopes, the roots will stabilize the soil and decrease erosion.

Related Stories

Land Trust Acquires Pristine Skaneateles Lake Shoreline

Photo: Bill Hecht

Vernal Pool Creation

Staghorn Cliffs Preserve

Onondaga County, NY

In partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, five vernal pools were created to retain water on an FLLT conservation area prior to its release into Skaneateles Lake, the unfiltered drinking water source for local communities and the city of Syracuse. This area, also known as the Staghorn Cliffs, is contiguous to the organization’s Cora Kampfe Dickinson Preserve and contains some of the most pristine shoreline remaining in the Finger Lakes region.

Related Stories

Vernal Pools Created within Skaneateles Lake Watershed

Land Acquisition A Win for Skaneateles Lake

Partnership Enhances Wildlife Habitat & Recreational Opportunities in New York’s Only National Forest

Land Trust Acquisition Adds to Protection of Skaneateles Lake

A Closer Look: The Elusive Spotted Salamander



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